In Council of Europe member States, national parliamentarians
have a representative mandate which has the distinction of being
general, free and irrevocable. They are considered to be able to
exercise their mandate freely and not be bound by any undertakings,
orders or instructions from their voters or issued by their party
or political group in the parliament.
This report takes stock of the conditions governing the exercise
of the parliamentary mandate, with the focus on the issue of parliamentarians’
independence and freedom of expression (and their limits), more
specifically in terms of the nature of their relationship with the
political parties. Party discipline is an inescapable feature of how
parliamentary institutions operate today, which may lead to a kind
of “imperative mandate”, through pressure exerted on parliamentarians
and threats of sanctions.
In the last few years, irregularities occurred in some Parliamentary
Assembly delegations, bringing to light gaps and shortcomings in
the internal regulations, or current practices, of the national
parliaments concerned regarding the appointment of national delegations,
the composition of committees and the participation of their members
in Assembly sessions and committee meetings. In the exercise of
their Assembly mandate, members should enjoy the protection of a
status comprising recognition of a number of general principles.